Up and Running with Ableton Live 9
Illustration by John Hersey

Up and Running with Ableton Live 9

with Yeuda Ben-Atar

Video: Preparing your project for mixing

After we recorded our musical idea, arranged it in the Arrangement view, added effects, and automated parameters in the effects over time using automation envelopes, now it's time for mixing. It's time to make all the elements of the song work together. When I mix a song, I usually convert all the MIDI tracks to audio. In Live, it's very easy to quickly bounce your MIDI tracks to audio using Freeze & Flatten. Let's right-click on the Bass track and choose Freeze Track.

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Watch the Online Video Course Up and Running with Ableton Live 9
2h 11m Beginner Mar 05, 2013

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Discover how to get started creating and recording music with Ableton Live 9 in just two hours. Author and musician Yeuda Ben-Atar starts this course by showing how to set up all audio, MIDI, and external plugins and prep an initial project for recording. Then he jumps into high gear: making beats with the Ableton drum kits, recording with the built-in virtual instruments, and capturing live performance like vocals and guitar. After your tracks are recorded, learn how to arrange song clips, layer in effects, create and record automation, and quickly mix the tracks with groups, busses, EQ, compression, and other techniques. The final chapter in the course shows you how to save, export, and master your finished song.

Topics include:
  • Setting up plugins and projects
  • Creating a drumbeat
  • Converting audio to MIDI
  • Recording vocals
  • Warping and editing clips
  • Adding effects
  • Using time commands
  • Working with the mixer
  • Using side chain compression
  • Adding reverb and delay
  • Mixing dynamically with automation
  • Mastering a song
Subject:
Audio + Music
Software:
Ableton Live
Author:
Yeuda Ben-Atar

Preparing your project for mixing

After we recorded our musical idea, arranged it in the Arrangement view, added effects, and automated parameters in the effects over time using automation envelopes, now it's time for mixing. It's time to make all the elements of the song work together. When I mix a song, I usually convert all the MIDI tracks to audio. In Live, it's very easy to quickly bounce your MIDI tracks to audio using Freeze & Flatten. Let's right-click on the Bass track and choose Freeze Track.

Freezing a track will temporarily disable all the devices on it, but we will still be able to hear its output. This can also help saving up CPU power in heavy projects. If we right-click again on the track, we can choose Unfreeze Track to go back, or Flatten, which will convert all the MIDI into audio. So now, if we double-click on one of the clips, we can see its audio rather than MIDI.

If you want to keep your MIDI data-- let's go back and hit Command+Z. Let's create a new audio track by going to Create > Insert Audio Track, or Command+T or Ctrl+T. And then I can copy the MIDI clips, the frozen MIDI clips, to the audio by holding Option or Alt. And we would be able to keep the MIDI as well as the audio. So whenever we want to go back and change MIDI or change parameters, we can unfreeze the track.

But in my case, I like the bass how it is, so I'm going to Freeze & Flatten. Let's delete this audio and right-click again and Flatten. You can also see the clip name is changed and added a Freeze tag. You can change it if you want. It's just a name. Let's go up to Session view. And before I freeze and flatten the drums, I want to split the different elements of the drums for mixing, because right now everything is on one track. All the samples are inside a drum rack.

So, let's unfold the chain mixer. Choose Perc 1, holding Shift, and choosing also Perc 2. I'm going to right-click and choose Extract Chains. Live will then create a new MIDI track with a new drum rack and place only Perc 1 and Perc 2 on it. It will also create the MIDI clip with only the data we had in Perc 1 and Perc 2. And if we go back to our original drum rack, we can see the percussion elements are no longer there. Let's do the same with the hats, Extract Chains.

And I'll do the same with the snares, Extract Chains. Let's fold the Chain Mixer, go back to Arrangement, just arrange everything. Keep it organized. I'm going to call this Kick because we only get left with the kick. I'm going to copy the clips to wherever the drums are playing, by holding Option or Alt. This is our Perc. I am going to rename it using Command+R or Ctrl+R. This is our Hats, and this is our Snare.

We don't really need the Hats and the Percussion in part A, so I'm only going to keep the snare. Let's move the snare up. Let's color everything the same color. Now, instead of Freeze & Flatten, all these four tracks which might take time, we can also export all tracks at once. To do that, I need to place the loop bracket around the entire song. Go to File > Export Audio/Video. Under Rendered Track, I'll choose All Tracks.

I'm going to choose Bit Depth 24 Bit, because I want to keep the file in high quality. File Type, whichever you prefer--WAV or AIFF-- and Create Analysis File, let's keep it on. It will create another file except the AIFF file, which will end with .asd. That will be Ableton analysis file, which will allow us to more quickly read the files when you load them into a new project. Let's hit OK. Let's now choose a place in our hard drive where we want to place all the files.

I'm going to choose New Folder. Let's go with Exporting Files. Create. Let's name them Mix test. That's good. I'm going to save. Live will then render all the tracks in our project and will export them to audio files and will place them in the folder. Now, if we go to where we saved it, we can see we have AIF files and also the analysis files ending with .asd.

Arrange it by kind and see all the files. We can also see the Mix test.aif without the name of the track. That's the export from the master track if we need any reference for the entire song before we start mixing. Now, we are ready for mixing. We have all our tracks exported into audio. And if you have a fairly small project, you can also freeze and flatten all your tracks. If you have a large project, I would recommend exporting all tracks.

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